In yet another unprecedented disruption, Steward Bank has launched Sosholoza, a WhatsApp banking platform. This time around, Steward Bank are not stingy, the service covers all banks and mobile money platforms as well.

“There are more people spending time on Whats App than any other platform,” Steward Bank Chief Executive Officer Dr Lance Mambondiani said at the launch. This is true. Being able to perform banking transactions all in one place is a masterstroke. Sosholoza allows users to send money from your bank or wallet to any bank or wallet and vice versa. Yes, you can now send money from Ecocash to One Money or Telecash. Brilliant. Talk of convenience at the highest level. And you can perform other transactions too, like buying electricity tokens and the like.

How to get going

Steward Bank has decided to keep things simple. All you need to do is as follows;

  1. Save the number 0777222333 in your contacts on your mobile device.
  2. Go to your Whats App and send the message “Hi” to that number.
  3. A virtual assistant identifying itself as Batsi will respond and ask for your name.
  4. Once you type your name, you will get a congratulatory message as well as a list of the 12 options that are available on the platform. These include Sosholoza, Reimagine Rural Registration, Purchase airtime, send Zipit, pay bills and others.

It’s as simple as that.

Advantages and disadvantages

With Cash shortages still persisting, RTGS, mobile and electronic banking continue to gain traction. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe National Payment Systems 4th Quarter ending December 2018 Report, RTGS accounted for 54.59% of all transactions by frequency. Mobile banking was at 29.87%, with Internet Banking at 7.93%. Cash transactions were only 2%. Sosholoza takes advantage of these statistics and does well by pulling everything to one place, Whats App banking. The need to go to the bank will immediately disappear.

The business sense of this move may take time to fully comprehend but let us look at things this way. Ecocash alone enjoys 97% market share. By integrating with other mobile money operators and banks, they are eating into others market share tactfully. Yes, they may also be increasing their competitors’ business but that’s the whole point. A win-win arrangement which they control. Potentially and over time, any transaction that happens will benefit Steward Bank one way or the other. This is the direction Steward Bank wants to take things. Get the cake and eat it too. They may have invited others to the party but they will eat more than the rest.

Some may be concerned that transacting on a platform like Whats App may compromise security to some extent. The truth is that security concerns are always there whenever money is involved. To their credit, Steward Bank has already anticipated these worries. So, whenever you are prompted to enter sensitive information like your card number, you are immediately reminded that you need to delete it as soon as possible as a safeguard. That is commendable. In any case, it is unfair to expect that the platform will operate without a single hiccup. We have to see it in action first before we pass our judgement.

Surely, with Steward Bank the innovations never die down. Just recently they introduced the *236# platform which become an instant hit with the public. Now this? Pure genius.